Bundy v. Bentley Senior Living at Pennsauken, No. A-1639-19, 2021 WL 408761 (App. Div. Feb. 5, 2021)

Net-Opinion Rule barred opinion of nurse expert as to the standard of care for protection of patients in assisted-living facility where the expert had no experience in that environment.

The plaintiff, an 81-year old resident of an assisted-living facility, tripped over his roommate’s walker and sustained a hip fracture that required hip replacement surgery. The plaintiff brought suit, alleging the defendant was negligent in allowing his roommate’s walker to be left on the plaintiff’s side of the room, contrary to his care plan to guard against tripping hazards. The plaintiff relied on the opinions of a registered nurse with 50 years of experience, although not in assisted-living facilities. The reports of that expert failed to specify a standard of care with respect to how frequently an assisted living facility must inspect a resident’s room for tripping hazards. The defendants moved to bar the expert’s testimony as a net opinion, which the trial court granted.

On appeal, the Appellate Division concluded the opinions of the expert were not based on adequate objective support as there was no reference to federal or state regulations, or guidelines set forth by the American Nursing Association. The court concluded that the opinions seemed “to have come out of thin air” and affirmed the decision of the trial court.


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